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Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

These perfectly soft and fluffy Lemon Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are tangy, refreshing, and are the quintessential Spring and Summertime treats.

A lemon cupcake garnished with a lemon leaf

Lemon is the ultimate Spring and Summer flavor, but lucky for us, we can enjoy these lemon cupcakes year-round. No matter what time of the year it is, if you need a little sunshiny pick-me-up, these cupcakes will certainly do it for you.

This lemon cupcakes recipe is easy enough to bake with kids. It will be a fun activity to bake with them during a school break. And if you need more ideas to get your kids involved in the kitchen, check out this collection of easy recipes to bake with kids.

How to Make Lemon Cupcakes

Lemon cupcakes from scratch

Making lemon cupcake batter

Prepare the cupcake batter (Photos 1 – 6)

  1. In a medium mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon zest. Then add the softened butter and beat until fluffy
  2. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract, then add to the butter mixture and beat until combined. The mixture may look curdled at this point but that’s okay, just keep going.
  3. Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk in the salt, and add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir just until the cupcake batter forms.
  5. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the side and bottom of the mixing bowl to ensure thorough mixing but try not to overmix the cake batter.
  6. Divide batter among 12 cupcake cavities using a large ice cream scoop. And bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before adding frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

You might wonder what frosting goes best with lemon cupcakes? If you ask me, I will have to go with a tangy cream cheese frosting flavored with freshly grated lemon zest to accentuate the refreshing tangy flavor of these lemon cupcakes.

Making lemon cream cheese frosting

Preparing the lemon cream cheese frosting (Photos 7 – 10)

  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese until thoroughly combined and creamy.
  2. Add vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat to combine.
  3. Add powdered sugar and stir to combine first.
  4. Then gradually increase the mixer speed and beat until frosting is fluffy.

If you want a sweet, tangy, and complimentary frosting, try this strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Taking your lemon cupcakes to the next level

For extra lemony flavor, I suggest adding a lemon curd filling to these cupcakes. This is optional but will definitely take your cupcakes to the next level. See this Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes recipe for directions on how to fill it.

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting in a cupcake pan

Baker’s Tips

Substitution tips

Buttermilk is a typical ingredient that I use in a lot of cupcake recipes. If you don’t have buttermilk, you could use:

  • Enough milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to make ½ cup in this recipe.
  • A mixture of half sour cream or yogurt + milk will also work as a substitute.

Lemon flavoring: I prefer freshly grated lemon zest for these cupcakes and frosting. But if you don’t have fresh lemons, you can use pure lemon extract for flavoring instead. Adding a lemon curd filling will also enhance the lemon flavor.

How to store lemon cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Frosted cupcakes will last up to a week in the refrigerator and much longer, up to 3 months, in the freezer.

When keeping cupcakes in the fridge or freezer, store them in an airtight container. Take care to wrap the cupcakes well when freezing to keep the freezer smell out. Let cupcakes come to room temperature before serving.

A half eaten lemon cupcake with cream cheese frosting

More lemony treats

If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!

Lemon Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting in a cupcake pan

Lemon Cupcakes

These perfectly soft and fluffy Lemon Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are tangy, refreshing, and are the quintessential Spring and Summertime treats.
Print Rate
Course: Cupcakes, Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 404kcal
Author: Trang

Ingredients

Cupcake

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (136 g)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 85 g)
  • ½ cup buttermilk (128 g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (162 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon salt

Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese (room temperature, 340 g)
  • 6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature, 170 g)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar (125 g)

Instructions

Make the lemon cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Line a regular size muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
  • Add sugar and lemon zest into a medium mixing bowl or your stand mixer bowl and whisk together to release the lemon essential oil from the zest. Add softened butter and beat until fluffy.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Add the liquid mixture to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  • In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl. Add salt to the flour mixture, and mix thoroughly with a whisk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape the side and bottom of the bowl to ensure the batter is well mixed.
  • Divide batter evenly among twelve cupcake cavities using a large ice cream scoop and bake for 15 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pan, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before adding frosting.

Prepare the cream cheese frosting

  • In a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together until thoroughly mixed and creamy.
  • Add vanilla extract and lemon zest, and beat to combine.
  • Add powdered sugar and stir until incorporated, gradually increase the mixer speed and beat until fluffy.
  • Frost the cooled cupcakes using a pastry bag fitted with a piping tip of your choice, or simply add frosting with an offset spatula or butter knife

Notes

  • If you don’t have buttermilk, use enough milk + 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to make ½ cup. Or half sour cream or yogurt + half milk.
  • To both the cake batter and frosting, you can add lemon extract for additional flavoring or in place of lemon zest if you don’t have any lemon. However, note that fresh lemon zest is preferred.

Nutrition

Serving: 103g | Calories: 404kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @WildWildWhisk or tag #WildWildWhisk!

Lemon cupcakes pin image

This post was originally published on 9/13/2014. The post has been updated and republished on 4/27/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips, and process photos to help you in the kitchen.

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6 Comments

  1. Somaly
    May 16, 2020 /

    Does this recipe transfer well to a cake? Or stick with cupcakes?

    • Trang
      Author
      May 16, 2020 /

      I have not made this recipe as a cake, but I think it will work. You could make a 2 layers 6″ cake, or a 1 layer 8″ cake. Baking time will be longer 20-25 mins for 6″ and probably 30-35 mins for 8″.

  2. February 15, 2018 /

    5 stars
    Who needs a story? These cupcakes speak for themselves. That frosting looks perfect

    • Trang
      Author
      February 15, 2018 /

      Awe thanks! 🙂

  3. Matea
    September 15, 2014 /

    That cream cheese frosting looks amazing! I love the little lemon wedge on top, really cute 🙂

    • Trang
      September 15, 2014 /

      Thank you!

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